The Dead Moms Club: A Memoir about Death, Grief, and Surviving the Mother of All Losses

The Dead Moms Club: A Memoir about Death, Grief, and Surviving the Mother of All Losses

Kate Spencer lost her mom to cancer when she was 27. In The Dead Moms Club, she walks readers through her experience of stumbling through grief and loss, and helps them to get through it, too. This isn't a weepy, sentimental story, but rather a frank, up-front look at what it means to go through gruesome grief and come out on the other side.An empathetic read, The Dead Mom...

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Title:The Dead Moms Club: A Memoir about Death, Grief, and Surviving the Mother of All Losses
Author:Kate Spencer
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The Dead Moms Club: A Memoir about Death, Grief, and Surviving the Mother of All Losses Reviews

  • Liz Gray

    A warning to potential readers: don’t start this book unless you have time to finish it in one or two sittings. It’s that good. Spencer writes in an engaging, self-deprecating and chatty style about a topic that most of us will experience in our lives, and her observations are heart-felt and true. You never “get over” your mother’s death, nor does your mother ever leave you. Learning to live with the tension between those two realities is what it’s all about.

  • Susannah

    To be totally honest, I know Kate IRL (brag) and read an early draft of this book (double brag) so you can take this review with NO grains of salt because, girl, I can be objective. This is a really funny, moving, vulnerable memoir about the biggest, worst loss in Kate’s life, and all the smaller, but still devastating moments of loss that have followed in the years since. It’s also about hope and healing and friendship and family and weirdos who say weird things to you when you’re going through

    To be totally honest, I know Kate IRL (brag) and read an early draft of this book (double brag) so you can take this review with NO grains of salt because, girl, I can be objective. This is a really funny, moving, vulnerable memoir about the biggest, worst loss in Kate’s life, and all the smaller, but still devastating moments of loss that have followed in the years since. It’s also about hope and healing and friendship and family and weirdos who say weird things to you when you’re going through a difficult time. It’s a really lovely book that you will read quickly but which will stay with you long after you’ve put it down. If you are or know someone who’s a member of the Dead Mom’s Club (or the Dead Dad’s Club), you need to buy this book and then clear your afternoon for reading and crying and laughing and feeling your feelings.

  • Taryn

    Let's start off with why I'm here: I'm a part of this club. I never would've thought to order this book online if I wasn't. And I'm glad I did. My rating for this book is based on how much it helped me — and it helped me, hence the full rating. I would read this book again. I was sad I finished it tonight, because I felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend I latched myself onto.

    A lovely member of Oh No They Didn't! recommended this book to me back in early December. As soon as I Googled it and

    Let's start off with why I'm here: I'm a part of this club. I never would've thought to order this book online if I wasn't. And I'm glad I did. My rating for this book is based on how much it helped me — and it helped me, hence the full rating. I would read this book again. I was sad I finished it tonight, because I felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend I latched myself onto.

    A lovely member of Oh No They Didn't! recommended this book to me back in early December. As soon as I Googled it and read the synopsis, I ordered it immediately with every intention to read it as soon as it arrived on my doorstep.

    I didn't read it as soon as it arrived on my doorstep. Instead, I looked at it, put it on my bookshelf, and didn't pick it up until May.

    Why May? May is Mother's Day and my birthday. I needed a friend to help me get through it. This isn't to say my friends haven't been — they have. But I needed someone who would be there at the hours I needed, who knew what I was feeling without needing me to tell them. As I read this book, I felt justified in my feelings, in the thoughts I had and am having, and have found understanding in even my own reactions.

    This book was there for me in a way where it initiated the conversation. I was taken along Kate's journey, and while I couldn't relate to some aspects of her memoir, I understood the emotion. Her words spoke to me in a way and at a time where I didn't realise I needed to invite it in.

    Am I making sense? I hope I'm making sense.

    I found myself surprised to be crying at sections of it. I was upset for Kate, for my new friend who was grieving so palpably through the pages. But I was crying for myself, because where Kate spoke of her mother, I inserted my own, and I found someone who understood all the things I knew and didn't know I was doing.

    I don't feel comfortable reviewing someone else's grief, because it isn't my place to judge. I am grateful for this memoir. I am grateful I read it. I am grateful I have it available to turn to when I need it.

    It has been a friend who has hugged me when I needed it, and an enemy who has ripped me open when I wasn't expecting it.

    I thought I would be able to finish this book and have a stack of quotes with me to include in my review. I don't. There are, quite frankly, too many quotes.

    I loved the words from Martha at the end.

    Thank you for sharing your story, Kate. Nothing I could say would encompass what this book means to me and has done for me. While it hasn't taken away my grief, it's given me the ability to accept it, control it when I see it coming at me, and, most of all, just experience it, knowing I am most definitely not alone.

  • Katie

    First of all, this is the worst club ever and I would like to leave. That said, I did appreciate this book, especially after having a few years to adjust to my membership.

    My instinct when reading was to compare everything about the author's situation to mine. We were about the same age, our moms were about the same age, and we're both from Massachusetts (just a decade apart). After that point, I didn't find much in common with the author's life at all, and at times I genuinely couldn't tell if

    First of all, this is the worst club ever and I would like to leave. That said, I did appreciate this book, especially after having a few years to adjust to my membership.

    My instinct when reading was to compare everything about the author's situation to mine. We were about the same age, our moms were about the same age, and we're both from Massachusetts (just a decade apart). After that point, I didn't find much in common with the author's life at all, and at times I genuinely couldn't tell if I even liked her.

    But I thought she was right on the mark when it came to how completely the grief took over life, and the weird situations you find yourself in when explaining it, and how it all feels both incredibly selfish and completely justified when you literally can't think of anything else outside of that bubble (like, every new thing that happens is a thing I can't tell my mom and I am still annoyed by that 3 years on). Some (or most) of the personal details might be different, but the experience of loss is universal, and I liked how this book fought that with a sense of humor.

    It's also more of a 3.5 star book for me, but I can save my complaints about the rating system for another day.

  • Sue

    Unfortunately, I am a new member in this club and I ordered Kate's book to try to find some ideas about dealing with my grief. Because the situations were very different, parts of the book didn't resonate with me but there were other parts that were very meaningful.

    The author has divided the book into different sections - example - Breaking the News, Holidays, Being Motherless and at the end of each section she has ideas of how to handle certain situations. The book is written with humor and isn

    Unfortunately, I am a new member in this club and I ordered Kate's book to try to find some ideas about dealing with my grief. Because the situations were very different, parts of the book didn't resonate with me but there were other parts that were very meaningful.

    The author has divided the book into different sections - example - Breaking the News, Holidays, Being Motherless and at the end of each section she has ideas of how to handle certain situations. The book is written with humor and isn't a book that is written in a weepy fashion. Whether you are part of the club or not, it's a book that will make you smile and that's always a good thing to do.

  • Chrissy

    I’m (thankfully) not a member of the Dead Moms Club, but this book reduced me to a puddle of tears. Kate lays out the good, bad, and ugly parts of herself and her grief in a very real, relatable way. I found her tips on how to support those who are grieving or dealing with illness to be particularly helpful. Especially when it comes to what NOT to do - which is nothing at all. Reach out, offer your support, or simply a kind word. It may not feel like much, but it’s something.

  • Lisa

    This book wasn't what I expected. I wanted it to go deep, but instead it read like an extremely privileged girl's life experiences with passages like: 'You know those asshole kids who have Christmas presents stacked so high they touch the top of the tree? That's us' or 'I grew up spending summers on a tiny lake in New Hampshire, which was as idyllic as it sounds.' About how her mother bought her everything she couldn't afford 'just because'. She talks about grieving in yoga classes, Trader Joe's

    This book wasn't what I expected. I wanted it to go deep, but instead it read like an extremely privileged girl's life experiences with passages like: 'You know those asshole kids who have Christmas presents stacked so high they touch the top of the tree? That's us' or 'I grew up spending summers on a tiny lake in New Hampshire, which was as idyllic as it sounds.' About how her mother bought her everything she couldn't afford 'just because'. She talks about grieving in yoga classes, Trader Joe's, the dog groomer's and Weight Watchers - which she joined even though she made sure to point out- she didn't actually need to lose weight (lest you think she was there for that reason!) She advocates traveling to the Caribbean for the holidays as a solution to having to face them sans her mother (trips bankrolled by her father) where heated arguments break out about whether or not to wait to eat at the Lobster Shack, and this kind of argument is analysed as part of real grief.

    She talks about having to tell people her mother had died, and complains when people bring it up (wouldn't it be insulting if they didn't?) There are few moments of 'real' or depth...and even though I realize that some people do live this kind of a life (and if you do, chances are high you'll love this book! If you're all about khakis and boat shoes, designer clothes and the Dave Matthews band this book is your jam!) I, however, felt there was far too much back-handed bragging (which may be unintentional- she may not realize her privilege), or advice for the average person (middle class and below) who had to deal with say, your deceased mother's finances, clearing out her things, or coming to grips in less than ideal conditions- say, if they don't have a spouse to handle the millions of details (probate court, insurance benefits, unpaid bills, death certificates, etc.)

    Of course I feel awful for anyone who has lost their mom, but I hope the author realizes that her example is one where the absolute BEST of conditions are in place, and that for many people the road is not paved in gold, and what's left behind is an intricate course of obstacles, with a million enormous decisions that land on your shoulders, unsupported by unlimited cash and a large group of loving people . Or anyone.

  • Riva Sciuto

    "You have one long, messy, weird, beautiful life. People come in and out of it, live and die, and affect us in enormous and not-so-enormous ways. Your mom's death is now a piece of you, a new dent on the side of the strange, misshapen thing that is your life."

    ***

    As a member of the Dead Moms Club for the past seven years, I (unfortunately) relate to everything Kate Spencer writes about in this book. Part memoir, part self-help guide to grief, she uses humor -- perhaps gratuitously at times -- to

    "You have one long, messy, weird, beautiful life. People come in and out of it, live and die, and affect us in enormous and not-so-enormous ways. Your mom's death is now a piece of you, a new dent on the side of the strange, misshapen thing that is your life."

    ***

    As a member of the Dead Moms Club for the past seven years, I (unfortunately) relate to everything Kate Spencer writes about in this book. Part memoir, part self-help guide to grief, she uses humor -- perhaps gratuitously at times -- to help the reader navigate the ugly and foreign world of the motherless. "You won't know how you're going to make it through," she writes. "But you will. You will."

    Her book is filled with reminders of what the motherless among us know to be true: Mother's Day is the "Darth Vader of holidays" (she nails that one); planning a wedding without your mom is no walk in the park; and holidays really never will be the same. She also adds (and I laughed aloud at this), "You're totally allowed to side-eye all those people who say, 'She's in a better place now!' Screw them." (Thank you, Kate!) Spencer also astutely points out what we all know to be true, whether we've experienced grief or not: we live in a society that avoids the acknowledgment of grief or loss at all costs. She claims that people are "better at swallowing their grief than discussing it" -- which only exacerbates the pain of those grieving. She provides us all with an important reminder: "If you don't know what to say to someone grieving, just try. There isn't a right thing to say. Just say something. That is, quite simply, good enough."

    Beneath the (often dark) humor Kate Spencer uses to chronicle the grief of losing her mom at 27 to pancreatic cancer, she includes some beautiful and very poignant passages on the impossibility of her journey: "This is how it is when death finally comes: your fear, anxiety, and sorrow stretch and expand, but you make room for the pain in ways you never thought possible. And then suddenly it all hits, explodes, and you are decimated." She writes beautifully about the unpredictability of grief, of its ability to blindside us at any moment: "These are the comforting, throw-away moments that when repeated every winter become permanent creases in our memory, folded into the pages of our lives. How strange it is, then, that time can move so fast. How odd that our brains latch on to these dull, forgettable moments. The lulls in between life's big events -- these are the times we cry for, long for, that make us ache."

    I would recommend this book to anyone who has recently lost a parent; while the gravity of loss is sometimes diminished by Spencer's repeated jokes, her voice is authentic in its ability to bring some levity to the dark and devastating world of loss. And no matter where you are on your journey through loss, Kate Spencer is here to remind you that you can get through it. "Celebrate the person you've become not in her absence, but because of it," she writes. 3.5 stars for this unique and candid guide to grief.

  • Melissa

    I've always thought it so interesting and peculiar that eventually every human will experience loss and grief, yet it is such a unique and personal experience. And again, people read nonfiction and memoirs about how to deal with loss, yet one person's coping mechanisms may be the exact opposite of what you need.

    Which brings me to this book. I am a part of this club, and my experience has been so very different than the author's. Which, obviously, is normal. But I was still interested in reading

    I've always thought it so interesting and peculiar that eventually every human will experience loss and grief, yet it is such a unique and personal experience. And again, people read nonfiction and memoirs about how to deal with loss, yet one person's coping mechanisms may be the exact opposite of what you need.

    Which brings me to this book. I am a part of this club, and my experience has been so very different than the author's. Which, obviously, is normal. But I was still interested in reading and learning and relating to this book. But that didn't happen.

    There was a lot of humor--which I liked!--except a lot of the jokes weren't actually funny. They were suuuuuper forced. And I didn't connect to it emotionally at all. Maybe because of the way it's written or because she had an annoyingly privileged attitude, but I just couldn't. It had some great quotes and moments, but overall, I expected to like it a lot more than I did.

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